General Psychology

April 23, 2024

Imposter Syndrome

Author: Dr. Christopher Deussing and Deniz Gulkan

Have you ever felt incapable in your life when starting a new position for work or getting accepted into school?

There are many different names for this experience (e.g., imposter syndrome, imposter phenomenon, imposter experience). Don’t feel alone, because you’re not the only person who has doubted yourself … we all have! If someone tells you they have never experienced imposter syndrome, they’re lying.

So, what is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it? Imposter syndrome is the repetitive feeling or thought of being fraudulent or “not good enough” despite having the credentials and skills to back your accomplishments. 

This “syndrome” is not limited to a specific community, race, gender, age, or socioeconomic status. Everyone has felt this. Even the most influential individuals in history. Albert Einstein described his experience of imposter syndrome by identifying himself as an “involuntary swindler” (Cox, n.d.).

So, if we all have this experience of feeling like an imposter, then why do we feel alone in our struggles? 

The answer is simple! Nobody likes to share their challenges! 

How many posts on social media do you see of celebrities exposing their raw, unfiltered adversity? None! Instead, we see the luxuries and accomplishments plastered all over the media! In other words, no one likes to express that they experience negative emotions. 

So, how do we cope? How do we deal with this feeling of fraudulence? 

It is easier said than done. However, the best way is to reframe society’s perspective about success. You can communicate what you are feeling with a trusted confidant, and open a safe space to talk about your feelings. Opening up in this way, allows others to connect with their own experience of imposter syndrome, which can lead to collaborative discussions. This permits the members of the conversation to feel comfortable knowing they are not alone, which creates a strong sense of community.

Another effective way to cope with imposter syndrome is through positive self-talk. This can be challenging to implement in your daily life. To start, be curious about where these negative thoughts are coming from. When you start thinking, “There must have been an error in my acceptance to this program” … ask yourself “Why would there be an error?”. By creating curiosity toward these thoughts, you empower yourself to check the facts and prove yourself wrong. Checking the facts quiets the inner “imposter” that clouds your judgment. You do deserve this opportunity!

Although imposter syndrome is inevitable, we can reconstruct the way we perceive our experiences. Having a community to acknowledge these complicated feelings with is an excellent resource to bring us back to a clearer head space. By using positive self-talk and building healthy community, you can neutralize the inner imposter and return to your strengths.


A guide to impostor syndrome-and overcoming it. Understanding and Overcoming Impostor Syndrome | McLean Hospital. (2023, June 2). 

What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it?. Elizabeth Cox: What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it? | TED Talk. 

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